LESSONS THROUGH TIME
1. IN HER TIME: A SKIING LESSON
(For Martin, Teaching Marie)
Will you grow older than these lessons,Mon chère? Will you gather pictures
Like dada-abuelo peppers and papers
His dusty study with his world’s magic?
Papa will no doubt pin this on his wall,I wager all my left-over memories,
He will: it is this lesson of love and daring
That he will always remember, repeat:
“Go, chère, find your slope and subdue it,Ride over all the covered snow lumps,
Leap over the stumps, swerve and stomp.
No dreads, brave girl, this glide is yours.”
Down there, in yet another world, prayerIs passé; that comes only after a striving,
Not after the wind, but a hankering for power
You must dig out from your heart when sliding.
Down there, when you have grabbed your slope,Eat the snow on the ground, it is your prayer.
Lick the pine cones on your way off the trail
They are your trophies. Each one, my prayer.
2. IN HIS TIME: A SWIMMING LESSON
For Father (Francisco F. Casuga+)
How much of those happy timeswould you bring back, like the waves
ebb but must always rush back?
It is the sea that returns you intactinto my now empty days, windy days,
your laughter always a raw memory.
You threw me into those restlesswaves, cried out a challenge: Swim!
Kick hard, swing your arms! Swim!
And I never stopped, not for hurts,not for lost dreams, nor for losses.
You warned me never ever to cry.
3. IN HIS TIME: DOWN THE SLOPE
(For Father, Who Never Felt Snow)
Yet all the precedent is on my side:/I know that winter death has never tried/The earth but it has failed;.../It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak. --- Robert Frost, The Onset
I would run down the slope and catch myself
a rolling ball of snow before it falls into the ravine,
but walking through the silently falling snow
at the trail is a choice for these creaking knees---
no more gossoon games defying gravity for me
or flying off the hillside edge into fluff below
among the stiffened bramble and wild apple tree.
There’s warmth in the silence of falling snow:
I feel his gentle hands on my nape, I hear him,
I ask him if he would drink a pint with me
if I had reached beer-guzzling age before
he’d make his final trek, before he’d leave,
but I hear his whistling for the wind instead
and tug at his wayward kite now puncturing
some sombre summer sky in San Fernando.
O, how I’d run down the barren slopes to catch
his fallen kite among the burnt logs of the kaingin,*
but these are flakes I find myself catching
and whipped out twigs that break the silence
of falling snow. O my father.
------ ALBERT B. CASUGA
*Clearings made by burning forests
With Father, Martin, Mother, Adele Frances Casuga, and siblings Chloe Dominique and Louis Martin (in goggles)
Her Father, Martin Lalonde, and Marie Clementine, In Her Time